Cal beat Stanford -- though not by much -- in a new set of rankings aiming to compete with those of U.S. News & World Report.
Since 2005, The Washington Monthly has issued rankings based on its measures of "how much a school is benefiting the country."
The Monthly's 2011 list scrambles U.S. News traditions, with Yale University at 39, Dartmouth College at 74 and Washington University in St. Louis at 112.
Stanford comes in fourth, after University of California's campuses at San Diego, Los Angeles and Berkeley.
In the U.S. News & World Report's 2012 rankings, Stanford places fifth along with Caltech, MIT, the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania.
The Monthly's list attempts to quantify how well a school performs as "an engine of social mobility," how well it does in fostering scientific and humanistic research and how well it promotes an ethic of service to the country.
It measures factors like percentage of students receiving federal, need-based Pell Grants, the number of science and engineering PhDs awarded and the number of students or graduates participating in ROTC and the Peace Corps.
Trailing Stanford in the Monthly's top 10 are UC Riverside, Harvard University, Case Western Reserve University, UC Davis, Jackson State University and the University of Michigan.
"Conventional rankings ... are designed to show what colleges can do for you," the Monthly editors wrote in the magazine's September/October issue.
"Since 2005, our rankings have posed a different question: What are colleges doing for the country?
"We all benefit when colleges produce groundbreaking research that drives economic growth, when they offer students from low-income families the path to a better life, and when they shape the character of future leaders. And we all pay for it, through hundreds of billions of dollars in public subsidies. Everyone has a stake in how that money is spent."
Judged according to similar criteria, liberal arts colleges making the Monthly's top 10 list were Berea College (Ky.); Morehouse College (Ga.); Bryn Mawr College (Pa.); Spelman College (Ga.); Swarthmore College (Pa.); Macalester College (Minn.); Amherst College (Mass.); Pomona College (Calif.); Harvey Mudd College (Calif.) and Carlton College (Minn.).